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Lakeland Elementary on the way to completion

Erica Dischino / Tribune Much of the Lakeland Elementary School classroom wing is nearing completion, as the Willmar School District prepares for January opening of the new school. First-floor classrooms only have cleanup remaining, and the second-floor classroom areas are ready for furniture. Hallways are waiting for the finishing touches.1 / 13
Erica Dischino / Tribune Concrete sidewalks in front of the new Lakeland Elementary School in Willmar were poured Thursday. Driveways and parking lots are finished and striped, and sod has been laid in play areas behind the school, to give children a playing surface right away when the building opens in January. 2 / 13
Erica Dischino / Tribune Preston Euerle, owner of R.A. Morton and Lakeland Elementary School project manager, holds a map of the building’s soon-to-be finished rooms. 3 / 13
Erica Dischino / Tribune The terrazzo flooring, as in this hallway, has been installed in the classroom wing of Willmar's new Lakeland Elementary School, and carpet has been laid in the classrooms. Flooring continues to be installed in the other wing of the building, and other finishing touches remain throughout. 4 / 13
Erica Dischino / Tribune Work is still buzzing in the northern half of the new Lakeland Elementary School building in Willmar. That portion includes the gymnasium, shown above, the cafeteria/commons area and kitchen, as well as the library and media center.5 / 13
Erica Dischino / Tribune Large windows are a feature of Lakeland Elementary School.6 / 13
Erica Dischino / Tribune Preston Euerle, owner of R.A. Morton and Lakeland Elementary School project manager, stands in one of the new classrooms in Lakeland Elementary School Thursday. The classrooms on the second floor feature doors that expand and contract on both sides. This allows for easy access to a common area that can be used for collaboration between classrooms. 7 / 13
Erica Dischino / Tribune Willmar Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Jeff Holm stands in a new classroom at Lakeland Elementary School. The school is set to open in January. 8 / 13
Erica Dischino / Tribune Lakeland Elementary School is set to open this January. The classrooms on the second floor feature doors that expand and contract on both sides. This allows for easy access to a common area that can be used for collaboration between classrooms. 9 / 13
Erica Dischino / Tribune Preston Euerle, owner of R.A. Morton and Lakeland Elementary School project manager, stands in front of the new kitchen in Lakeland Elementary School in Willmar. The school is set to open this January. 10 / 13
Erica Dischino / Tribune Concrete sidewalks in front of the new Lakeland Elementary School in Willmar were poured Thursday. Driveways and parking lots are finished and striped, and sod has been laid in play areas behind the school, to give children a playing surface right away when the building opens in January. 11 / 13
Erica Dischino / Tribune Preston Euerle, owner of R.A. Morton and Lakeland Elementary School project manager, left, and Willmar Public Schools Superintendent Jeff Holm stand Thursday in the Lakeland Elementary School. Holm holds a piece of the school floor’s carpeting that is designed to allow easy cleanup for liquid spills. 12 / 13
Erica Dischino / Tribune The cafeteria ceiling structure is shown Thursday at Lakeland Elementary School in Willmar. The cafeteria/commons area is in the northern half of the new building where a lot of interior work is continuing. 13 / 13

WILLMAR — In two months, about 600 students will be rushing through the doors of Lakeland Elementary School.

The new school is scheduled to open in January. Students who will attend the school are now going to school at Kennedy and Roosevelt elementary schools.

Lots of finishing touches remain, but the main infrastructure of the new building is complete and enclosed. During a tour this week, Superintendent Jeff Holm and Preston Euerle of RA Morton Construction Managers described the work that's been finished and what remains.

The new school is the largest project in a $52.35 million bond package approved by voters in 2015. Other projects have included additions at Willmar Senior High School and Willmar Middle School and some major maintenance work. Still to come is remodeling in several buildings.

When Lakeland opens, it will alleviate overcrowding in two existing elementary schools. With the change, Roosevelt and Kennedy schools will have more room for small group study and better accommodations for special education and English Language Learner classes.

"Lots of things will improve in all three sites in terms of traffic and crowding," Holm said.

There has been a rhythm to the work as different parts of the building are finished in succession. In general, contractors have been working from the south end of the building to the north, and from the second floor to the first, Euerle said.

"Obviously everything can't happen at the same time," he said, and it makes sense with a larger project to work from one section to another.

Lakeland's classroom wing is the southern half of the school. The second-floor classroom areas, for grades 3, 4 and 5, are ready for furniture. Hallways are waiting for the finishing touches.

On the first floor, classrooms are nearly finished with some cleanup remaining. Cabinetry, carpeting and whiteboards have been installed throughout.

Some heat is on in the classroom areas, and contractors expect to have the entire building heated next week.

Work is still buzzing in the northern half of the building, where the cafeteria/commons area, kitchen and gym are located along with music and science classrooms and a library/media center. Installation of the terrazzo flooring continues here. It's been installed in the classroom wing.

LED lights on sensors are installed in rooms throughout the building. Lights come on automatically when someone enters and turn off when everyone is gone.

The classrooms aren't ready for teachers to move in, but they should be next month. "Our plan is to have several weeks for them to get acclimated and settled," Holm said.

"I feel pretty confident by Dec. 1, we're going to have the run of the building and be able to start getting set up," Holm said. The building's furniture is being built, and delivery is expected in early December.

Outside the building, driveways and parking lots are finished and striped. Concrete sidewalks in front of the building were poured Thursday. Sod has been laid in play areas behind the school, to give children a playing surface right away. Playground equipment is to be installed next week.

Crosswalks will be installed crossing Lakeland Drive Southeast by the YMCA and at Olena Avenue, Holm said. There will be a walking path from neighborhoods to the east.

There will be no access from Willmar Avenue. Though the district owns the land, the speed limit on that part of the road is 55 mph, Holm said.

Linda Vanderwerf

I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.

Follow me on Twitter: @lindavanderwerf

(320) 214-4340
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